Well Paraguay played well enough to earn a point, but lets not count out Italy yet. They traditionally start each World Cup out slow but are always within the mix at the end. That said Italy were not that convincing as world champions.
TWEEEEEET TWEEEET PEEP
93:00 – Paraguay with a free kick. I like the Italian goalkeeper get up of each keeper having a neck warmer. Nothing comes from the set piece.
3 minutes of extra time.
88:00 - Paraguay now seem content with the shared points as they have lost their attacking verve. Meanwhile Italy are attacking with renewed vigor.
83:00 – Casually Montolivo shoots a scorching shot that Villar does very well to push around the bar. Good shot by the Italian midfielder.
81:00 – Paraguay pressing more and sending high balls in the box hoping Santa Cruz can get his head to the ball. They win a corner.
80:00 – Pepe takes a shot, its hit hard but straight at the keeper.
76:00 – Barrios off, Cardozo on for Paraguay.
74:00 – Recently Paraguay’s ball control and touch have been poor. I wonder if its a conditioning thing. They’re look much less dangerous and sure of themselves when the ball is at their feet.
72:00 – Di Natale on. Gilardino off. A like for like substitution.
70:00 – Newly introduced Camoranesi gets a yellow card for a poor challenge.
68:00 – Apparently Buffon has a hamstring injury. How he got it I have no idea. Valdez off but Roque Santa Cruz is on. He can be electrfying up front if his heart is in the right place.
66:00 - Paraguay really need to counter quickly. They were fantastic in qualifying. Lucas gets the ball and crosses back to Santana but his shot is fluffed and goes just wide. Good by Paraguay.
63:00 – GOOOOOOOOALLLL. De Rossi off the corner. Very poor by the Paraguayan keeper who comes at it and completely misses the punch as the ball lands at De Rossi’s feet and he just touches it into the empty net. Shame as Paraguay were playing great defense. Italy 1 – Paraguay 1
63:00 – Italy picking the pace up and win a corner.
61:00 - So far i think Darke and Ekoku are my favorite pairing so far. Good mixture of color commentary, with play by play and stories.
60:00 – Santana on, Torres off for Paraguay.
59:00 – Camoranesi on, Marchiso off for Italy.
55:00 – Very close by Vera. In a few quick passes Paraguay get it up to the Italian box but it is poorly cleared by the Italian defense and the ball comes to Vera who shoots just wide (it might have been tipped by the keeper).
53:00 - Pepe with a bicycle kick attempt from a Zambrotta cross. It would have been spectacular but he also could have maneuvered around and done something else.
51:00 – Second half beginning the way the first ended. Italy maintaining possession but unable to break down Paraguay’s defense.
49:00 – Great story by Darke about how the Italian team were pelted by rotten fruit when they came home from being defeated by North Korea in 1966.
Buffon must have been picked up some form of injury as he has been replaced at halftime by Marchetti
PEEEEEEEP and they’re off.
Some secret footage from the Italian training ground
PEEEEEP PEEEP. Halftime. Italy will have some work to do as they haven’t shown they can get past the Paraguayan defense. Paraguay holding up well and have gotten a great goal.
44:00 – Rain really coming down hard. The goal has given Paraguay some renewed confidence and are maintaining more possession. They should feel pretty good about themselves going into halftime.
39:00 – GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAL. ALCARAZZZZZZZ. What a beautifully headed goal from an exquisite set piece delivery by Torres. Alcaraz rose high and well and headed past a motionless Buffon! Italy 0 – Paraguay 1
38:00 - No real goal chances by either team as both defenses are doing a good job at nullifying any real threat.
32:00 - Game is becoming a little stagnant and has lost the pace of the opening moments. Italy are still dominating but the tempo has slowed.
24:00 – I’m very impressed with Paraguayan defense. They’re very well organized and athletic. They’re also beginning to foray into the Italian half more.
21:00 – A training ground corner earns Paraguay another corner. The second is cleared easily by Italy and off a Paraguayan mistake, Montolivo picks up the ball but his shot from outside the box is very weak and Villar easily gathers…well easy for him, not Green.
19:00 - Italy still dominating the game but Paraguay soaking up the pressure well but haven’t found their attacking boots yet.
13:00 - Italy really playing some pretty football it must be said. Some good one two’s mixed in with some individual skill.
11:00 – De Rossi was taken out by one of the many snipers perched in the rafters of the Cape Town stadium. That had to have hurt as the Italian whiters around in excruciating pain. Oh wait he’s fine.
10:00 – Paraguay taking a page from the Italian book and playing very good team defense.
9:00 - Surprisingly by some Italy are the ones creating a high tempo game. Maybe they’re to put the game away in the first half so some of their older players can get to bed early! I kid but they’re playing very well and running hard so far.
7:00 – Italy passing well and a great cross is sent in but acrobatically cleared by Morel Rodriguez.
4:00 - Traditionally slow starters to World Cups and typically defensively natured, Italy are maintaining most of the possession in the Paraguay half in the early minutes.
2:00 - Great interception from a lovely pass to Montolivo by Bonet I believe. He slid and kept it in bounds with a great pass to a team mate.
TWEEEEEEEET and Italy kick it off.
Its pouring in Cape Town. I wonder what the combination of slippery ground and the ball will have.
Paraguay will be without influential striker Salvador Cabanas who was shot in the head in January and amazingly survived. The Paraguayan team are saying they are playing for him and that he’s been inspirational. Hopefully he will once again be able to bang them in the back of the net at the top level!
As said in TSG’s Big Impact injury piece, his scoring prowess in front of the goal will be missed.
The line ups:
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Fabio Cannavaro, Domenico Criscito, Gianluca Zambrotta, Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo, Alberto Gilardino, Claudio Marchisio, Simone Pepe, Vincenzo Iaquinta
Paraguay: Justo Villar, Antolín Alcaraz, Aureliano Torres, Claudio Morel Rodríguez, Paulo Da Silva, Carlos Bonet, Cristian Riveros, Victor Cáceres, Enrique Vera, Lucas Barrios, Nelson Haedo Valdez
Welcome to the first game of Group F featuring Paraguay versus the holders in Cape Town.